More than 90% of Year Nine students say they’ll now wait until 18 to drink alcohol
Ninety one per cent of teenagers say they will wait until 18 to try alcohol after participating in Smashed Project – the internationally acclaimed theatre-based education programme aimed at equipping them with the skills they need to counter peer pressure to drink alcohol.
Smashed Project, which was established in the UK in 2005 and will this year be delivered in 21 countries worldwide, launched in May in Auckland, brought to New Zealand by responsible drinking initiative the Tomorrow Project and delivered by the Life Education Trust.
The programme – featuring a play about a group of young friends who find themselves in trouble as a result of drinking alcohol – was delivered to almost 20,500 students from 94 schools across 135 performances. The performance is followed by an interactive workshop where pupils are invited to probe the cast on issues brought up during the play and discuss the consequences of underage drinking.
Students were surveyed before and after the interactive performances and results showed that 91% of students are now less likely to try alcohol before the age of 18 – after taking part in Smashed Project.
Smashed spokesperson Matt Claridge says the result is encouraging and speaks to the value of getting in front of teenagers and speaking to them in language they understand.
“Smashed Project gives teenagers a safe space to talk about peer pressure and underage drinking. Because it tells someone else’s story – not their own – it allows the students to actively rehearse situations and engage in the issues raised as a group. This includes looking at other options or choices for the characters that may lead to better outcomes.”
Other results from the surveys include:
Students’ knowledge of the dangers of underage drinking increased – before taking part in Smashed Project 78% of students could correctly identify the key dangers and risks associated with drinking alcohol underage, including negative effects on physical and mental health, increased risk of posting inappropriately on social media and physical aggression. This increased by 9% – to 87% – after taking part.
91% of students can identify the legal purchase age of alcohol after taking part in Smashed Project – a 17% increase in accuracy.
After taking part in Smashed Project, there is a 17% increase in knowledge of how and where to get help for alcohol related issues.
The findings are based on 5,585 students completing the PRE programme questionnaires (a 27% sample) and 3155 students completing the post programme questionnaires (a 15% sample of the total number of students engaged with Smashed Project across New Zealand). Funding is currently being secured for the programme to roll out to more year 9 students in 2020.
In the UK – where more than 380,000 pupils have participated in the programme – there has been a significant drop in the number of young people drinking alcohol, from 45% of 8-15-year-olds in 2003 to 14% today.
A global survey of Smashed participants shows the programme, developed in collaboration with young people, has had a real impact on teenagers and their attitude and behaviour related to alcohol.
95% of students said they understood more about the dangers of underage drinking than they did before the workshop
Students who knew the legal age for buying alcohol in their country increased from 78% to 94%
86% of pupils demonstrated confidence in where to get help with alcohol related issues after the programme (an increase of 33%)
15% have said the most important thing they learnt from the session was how to challenge peer pressure.
The Tomorrow Project is an alcohol industry-funded organisation, that manages the Cheers brand. It’s a social change initiative to create a healthier, safer and more responsible drinking culture in New Zealand, by utilising evidenced-based, targeted interventions that address the real reasons behind problem drinking.